The basic recipe for Belgian fries is always the same. They’re double-fried in animal fat: pre-fried at a lower temperature, allowed to cool, and then quickly fried at a higher heat just before serving. Exact timings vary, but here are my Belgian father’s instructions on how to do it, shared in a recent phone conversation.
Beef tallow gives a lot of flavor and character and can be ordered online. Vegetarians can substitute vegetable oil, but it’s really worth tracking down some beef tallow. It adds a lot of flavor.
- Peel the potatoes, wash them, and pat them dry.
- Cut them with a knife into batons, roughly 1 inch thick.
- Heat the cooking fat in your deep-fryer or heavy pot till it reaches 285 degrees.
- In batches, so as not to overcrowd the fryer, cook the fries until they're soft when pierced, but not yet browned. This should take roughly 5 minutes.
- Remove the fries, drain on paper towels, and allow to cool. The preceding steps can be done hours in advance of serving.
- Once ready to serve, heat the oil in your fryer to 356 degrees. Cook fries in batches for a few minutes until they're nicely browned. Salt to taste, and eat immediately. Serve with a slightly absurd amount of mayonnaise.
James Ubaghs is a writer, and committed glutton, living in Brussels.